Family of five-year-old girl with special needs left devastated by loss of her hero, Charlie the Great Dane

Brianna Lynch at her home in Killaloe in 2013 with her two-year-old Great Dane pup Charlie. Picture: Arthur Ellis

The family of a five-year-old girl with special needs has been left devastated following the sudden death of their great Dane. Charlie, an award-winning great Dane, died as a result of a twisted gut. He had developed an extraordinary protective bond with Brianna Lynch.

His life-saving exploits have been featured in national and international media after the Clare Champion first revealed how he could detect when Brianna, who suffers from epilepsy and has autism spectrum disorder, was going to have an epileptic fit about 20 minutes before each episode.

Brianna’s mother, Arabella, says she and her husband Brian and the whole family have been left “devastated” by the death of Charlie.

“Brianna is still looking for Charlie. When Charlie died I explained it to her and told her to say goodbye to Charlie. She hugged him, cuddled into him and was rubbing him. I don’t think she fully realises he is gone, she knows he is not here.

“I never met a dog with a heart as kind and as big as Charlie’s. Charlie absolutely loved Brianna to bits. Charlie was Brianna’s guardian angel. The bond got stronger as Brianna got older.

“I have never seen this type of bond between a dog and a child and a dog to put up with so much. Charlie was unbelievable. I don’t think there will ever be another Charlie. I don’t know what we will do without him.

Charlie died of gastric dilatation-volvolus, commonly called bloat, which is an emergency medical condition that is seen most commonly in large and giant breed dogs.

“It was always a case of Brianna and Charlie and now it is just Brianna. His death has left a big void in our house. Charlie gave Brianna a lot of freedom, because she was more independent with him present,” said Arabella.

Arabella is considering the possibility of getting a great Dane pupin view of Brianna’s special needs.

Brianna, who will be six in September, has been resuscitated twice in the past as her sleep apnoea was causing seizures on a more frequent basis before a recent operation. Arabella says Brianna’s heart wouldn’t be able to withstand the seizure and would stop.

At one stage Brianna was in hospital for a month and recently for a week, which prompted Charlie to lie at the entrance gate waiting for her to come home. “Charlie wouldn’t eat or anything. He would fall away to nothing when Brianna was gone. Brianna has to be constantly watched and can never be left alone as she can have a seizure at any time.”


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